How to Get Rid of Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are benign (noncancerous) growths that form in or around the uterus. Up to 80% of people with a uterus develop fibroids by the time they reach age 50.

Fibroids can grow slowly or not at all. In many cases, fibroids shrink on their own, especially after menopause. Your physician may suggest "watchful waiting," monitoring your fibroids through scans, rather than active treatment.

People who have symptomatic fibroids may require medical intervention. Your doctor will come up with a treatment plan based on many factors, including:

  • Your age
  • The number and size of your fibroids
  • Whether you are planning a pregnancy
  • Your overall health

Treatment can include hormonal medications, ultrasound therapy, surgery, and other treatments.

When Fibroids Need Treatment

While fibroids are not cancerous and are non-life-threatening, they can cause severe pain, heavy bleeding, and discomfort in some people. Certain signs and symptoms may signal the need for treatment:

Young woman experiencing stomach pain on the sofa at home


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Prescriptions

The first line of treatment for fibroids is usually medication. Medications may reduce the heavy bleeding and painful periods that fibroids sometimes cause. Some drugs may be prescribed to prevent the growth of fibroids. The following section will discuss some possible medications for fibroids in more detail.

  • Birth control pills are used to control heavy bleeding and painful periods, but overall they do not decrease uterine fibroid volume or uterine size.
  • Progestin–releasing intrauterine device (IUD): In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the progestin–releasing intrauterine device to treat heavy menstrual bleeding. An IUD reduces heavy and painful bleeding associated with fibroids but does not treat the fibroids themselves.
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists: These drugs stop the menstrual cycle and can shrink fibroids. GnRH agonists place the body into a "pseudomenopausal state," which induces menopausal side effects like hot flashes and loss of bone density. For this reason, they are used only for short periods (less than six months).
  • Other medications: Your doctor may also suggest that you take iron tablets if you have heavy menstrual bleeding and anemia. Tranexamic acid may also be prescribed if you have heavy menstrual bleeding.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies

There are some over-the-counter remedies you can try to cope with symptoms of fibroids:

  • Painkillers: Your doctor may recommend that you take pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve cramping and discomfort caused by your fibroids.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can work to reduce your body's production of a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin, which is linked to heavy periods.
  • Vitamins and supplements: Studies have been exploring whether the incidence or size of fibroids is affected by vitamin D levels. One study showed that larger fibroid volume was associated with lower serum vitamin D levels in Black subjects.

Medication Precautions

Medications can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one medication, including over-the-counter products and supplements.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

The following home remedies have been shown to be effective for some people in reducing fibroids and treating symptoms. How useful they are depends on a number of factors, including your overall health and the severity of your condition:

  • Diet: Some research suggests that people who eat a diet high in red meat and foods that contain lots of calories, fat, and sugar may be more likely to develop fibroids. In general, replacing red meats with plant-based protein sources, such as beans, could be a good move for health.
  • Weight management: People who are overweight are more at risk of fibroids. One study found that people with a body fat percentage greater than 30% are at higher risk. By maintaining a healthy weight through a nutritious diet and exercise, you may be able to reduce your risk of uterine fibroids. 
  • Green tea: A small 2013 study found that the flavanol EGCG, found in green tea, reduced the size of uterine fibroids and improved symptoms of anemia and blood loss.
  • Cutting back on alcohol: A large-scale research study of 21,885 premenopausal people found those who drink a beer a day or more increase the risk of developing uterine fibroids by more than 50%.

There are many home remedies available online, claiming that things like apple cider vinegar and essential oils can shrink fibroids. However, there is no medical evidence to support these claims.

Surgeries and Specialist-Driven Procedures

There are a number of surgical and nonsurgical procedures that can be carried out to relieve your fibroid symptoms, but they do come with risks. Your doctor will talk you through your options. Together, you can decide whether to have a procedure and, if so, which one to have.

Uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a minimally invasive approach that works by decreasing the total blood supply to the uterus, thereby decreasing the flow to the fibroids and minimizing bleeding symptoms.

The procedure has been shown effective in controlling heavy bleeding. Although it's possible to have a successful pregnancy after having UAE, the overall effects of the procedure on fertility and pregnancy are uncertain.

Endometrial ablation is an alternative to surgery in patients whose primary problem is heavy or abnormal bleeding. Ablation is designed to remove the endometrial lining.

It has been shown to improve general and menstrual-related quality of life and prevents hysterectomy in four out of five people with a uterus who undergo the procedure. The procedure is unsuitable for those looking to get pregnant.

MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery is a new approach. Ultrasound waves are used to destroy fibroids. The waves are directed at the fibroids through the skin with the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). As a relatively new treatment, there is not enough clinical evidence to support its long-term effectiveness at this time.

Myomectomy is surgery to remove fibroids while keeping the womb. After myomectomy, new fibroids can grow and become symptomatic later. The rate of recurrence of fibroids after myomectomy can reach almost 60% after an interval of four to five years.

Hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus) is the only sure way to cure uterine fibroids. This surgery is used when fibroids are large, if the patient has heavy bleeding, is either near or past menopause, or does not want children. 

Hysterectomy for Fibroids

Fibroids are the most common reason that hysterectomy is performed. In the United States, more than 600,000 hysterectomies are performed each year.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Small-scale research studies have looked at the effects of complementary and alternative medicine on fibroids. More research is needed before doctors can recommend these treatments.

Gui Zhi Fu Ling Tang

The most common traditional Chinese medicine for uterine fibroids is Gui Zhi Fu Ling Tang, a combination of five herbs: 

  • Cortex moutan
  • Radix paeoniae
  • Ramulus cinnamomi
  • Poria cocos
  • Semen persicae

Gui Zhi Fu Ling Tang has been shown to be effective in treating menstrual cramps, either by itself or with conventional treatment for fibroids. A study found that combining Gui Zhi Fu Ling Tang with the medication mifepristone (a standard therapy for fibroids) was more effective than mifepristone alone.

More research is needed in this area, as a systemic review of Gui Zhi Fu Ling Tang research found the quality of the clinical trials in this area to be poor.

Chasteberry

Chasteberry, or Vitex agnus-castus, is a plant used in herbal medicine that is often taken for heavy menstrual bleeding, painful periods, and other symptoms. This herbal remedy helps to balance hormone levels.

Acupuncture

Studies have found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for dysfunctional bleeding, chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, and painful periods. However, there is still a lack of evidence on its effect on fibroids. Of people in the United States who use natural medicine to treat fibroids, about 16% try acupuncture for symptoms.

Talk to Your Doctor

An integrated approach using both conventional and complementary and alternative medicine can be safe and effective as long as you consult with your primary care physician before embarking on any new regimens or supplements.

Summary

Treatment for uterine fibroids depends on whether they are causing symptoms. Uterine fibroids can be treated with prescription and over-the-counter medication, procedures, or surgery. Some people also use lifestyle or complementary and alternative remedies to address their symptoms.

A Word From Verywell

Your treatment for fibroids will depend on the size and location of the growths. Fibroids may not need treatment if they’re small or don’t produce symptoms.

Talk to your doctor about the treatments available. They will be able to give you the best advice based on your circumstances and medical history. While hysterectomy used to be the most popular treatment for fibroids, there are many nonsurgical options to try first.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get rid of calcified fibroids?

A calcified fibroid is when a fibroid has reached the final stage of degeneration, or cell death, and calcium deposits develop on the remaining fibroid tissue. Many doctors will suggest a conservative approach including the use of over-the-counter painkillers or ibuprofen to address pain and cramping.

In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend a myomectomy, which is the removal of the fibroid.

How do you get rid of fibroids when pregnant?

During pregnancy, treatment for uterine fibroids is limited because of the risk to the fetus. Bed rest, hydration, and mild pain relievers may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of fibroids. If necessary, surgical intervention or hormonal medication will be undertaken in the postpartum period.

How do you get rid of foul-smelling bloody discharge due to fibroids?

If you have vaginal discharge that is foul-smelling, it may indicate an infection. Infections are typically treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. Talk with your doctor about options to treat discharge that seems unusual for you.

How long does it take essential oils to get rid of fibroids?

There is no evidence to suggest that essential oils can get rid of fibroids. Essential oils are not safe to consume and can cause significant poisoning even if small amounts are ingested.

How do you use apple cider vinegar to get rid of fibroids?

Researchers have begun studies on the effect of apple cider vinegar on weight loss and body fat content. However, no scientific study has been done to determine if it can shrink fibroids.

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